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colours; and there is another group somewhat kindred to these in the purposes to which they are adapted in the flower-garden, which is characterised by quaintness of aspect and quiet tints of foliage. Noteworthy in the first group are Cerastium, various Sedums and Saxifrages, the bronze-leaved Ajuga, the variegated form of the Shiningleaved Arabis, Jacob's Ladder, and Cock's-foot Grass. These, and many more of a like character, are indispensable as edging and neutral subjects in the flower-garden on the “bedding” plan. Examples of the carpet-like group are the moss-like Saxifrages, and many others. The Common Stonecrop and many other Sedums, Leptinella scariosa, Acænas, two or three, and many others of prostrate creeping habit of growth, are valuable for forming groundworks on beds or borders on which to set in relief plants that are conspicuous or remarkable either in flower or foliage, on the plan usually named “carpet planting.” The last group is the least numerous, and consists chiefly in the few Sempervivums that are hardy, and the rosulate section of the Saxifrages; but so far as they go, they are worthy subjects to use in connection with masses of colour, either in the form of edgingsthough in that way their quaint style may be proper only in rare cases—or in beds by themselves, either isolated or connected with colour.
A small number of herbaceous plants—or if not all strictly herbaceous, usually, in gardens at least, classed with them—may be used in connection with “beddingout” with the best results, as central and outstanding objects for the purpose of breaking flat surfaces, and relieving with gracefulness or rigidity of form dense and extensive masses of colour. The various hardy Yuccas,
large-growing Grasses, Bocconia, and Veratrums, are some of the subjects of this class.
Their capabilities for Spring Flower-gardening.—It may, I think, safely be affirmed that the flowers of spring are at once the most chaste and brilliant in colour, the most sweet and attractive, of those of all other seasons. It may be that the comparatively dreary circumstances under which they appear has by contrast the effect of heightening their beauty and worth. While Flora's other subjects are yet unstirred, these, her hardy children of spring, come forth in the short dark days, almost forbidden by nature's rude influences, bringing with them a renewal of precious promises, and fresh hopes and thoughts pleasant to ponder, but often unutterable. Spring-flowering perennials, whether of the fibrous-rooted or bulbous kinds, are exceedingly numerous, and abound in varied and bright tints, and the majority are very profuse, and many are deliciously fragrant. The summer and autumn flowers that deck the parterre in the fashionable flowergarden may be pointed to with some exultation by the "bedding" gardener as the perfection of brilliancy, denseness, and duration in flowers; but they cannot compare with the flowers of spring for individuality, sprightliness, delicacy, and simple grace.
The great defect long ago felt in “ bedding-out” is the sharply-defined and comparatively brief period during which it is possible to enjoy it in this climate. This is inseparable from it, so long as the main or any considerable portion of the materials used in it is of too tender a nature to endure the low temperature and variable weather that prevail during spring, and even in early summer, in many parts of the country. Where families
reside the year round at their country seats, and to the very large classes of owners of suburban villas, amateurs generally, and cottagers, this alternate feast and famine of Flora, consequent on the too exclusive culture of summer-flowering plants, is becoming unendurable. A very large number of brilliant spring - flowering perennial plants of the simplest cultural requirements are capable of being used for garden embellishment in the same way as that which is fashionable in the summer flower-garden, or in mixed fashion. In a few places in the country, by a skilful use of spring-flowering perennial plants and annuals, that comparatively recent style of flower-gardening called “spring massing” has been introduced with the best results; and there is no doubt but that, on some scale suited to the requirements of individual cases, the reintroduction of the beautiful flowers of spring into our gardens would be a boon to all. The wonder is that they have not been called back long ago. In most gardens we are accustomed to see a few Snowdrops, Crocuses, and it may be a few Winter Aconites, but they are generally few and solitary enough, reminding us of the desirability of flowers in spring of all seasons of the year, and making us yearn for summer when their abundance is greater and less enjoyable. The beds and borders of the smaller gardens should be filled with at least all the spring-flowering bulbs in an orderly way, whatever
be the nature of their summer occupants; and there are many fibrous-rooted perennials which may be used in conjunction with these as temporary ornaments, such as Primroses, Daisies, Ajuga, Iberis, and others included and described in this work, which will bear frequent removals without injury, and may there
fore be removed in order to make way for summer flowers on the massing system. Spring flower-gardening may be attempted in two ways—in that just slightly alluded to, which may be called the migratory system, and in which the practice is to fill up the summer flower-garden in autumn, when its characteristic occupants fail, with spring-flowering, perennial, and annual, and variegated plants previously prepared for the end in view in a reserve garden or borders during the summer, to which, if perennial, they are taken back when it is necessary to prepare for the summer campaign. The best recommendation of this system is, that it provides furniture for the summer flower-garden at all seasons, but it is attended with greater cost in labour and material than the other practice of setting apart a convenient space to be permanently occupied by spring flowers, and called the “spring garden.” In this permanent garden there may be cultivated many valuable spring flowers that are constitutionally averse to frequent removals and disturbance, and consequently unable to stand the wear and tear attendant on the other plan, along with many others as charming as any, but so slow of increase by any means as to be ever at a minimum in point of numbers. The practice of spring gardening is yet in its infancy, however, but with the wealth of brilliant material available for it in one way or another, great things may be expected of it; and as much of the material is comparatively inexpensive and of the easiest culture, and must of necessity be hardy, the practice of it is rendered much more generally possible to all classes than summer flower-gardening on any system with plants of tender constitution. In any case, a general reintroduction of hardy spring flowers
cannot fail to extend the enjoyments of the owners of gardens, and remove the too well grounded complaint so frequently urged at present of a brief repletion and lengthened barrenness of beauty in the flower-garden.
Their Value in Mixed Borders. Although it is no part of the object of this book either to recommend or condemn styles of planting, it may not be amiss here to advert slightly to some of the advantages that may be gained in any garden, large or small, by the adoption of the mixed system to a greater or less extent. The advantages of this system will be limited or extended just as the materials used in it are numerous and varied, or the reverse. It would certainly be no improvement on the massing system, were it carried out by means of the same plants used in it. But the mixed style admits of the employment of any judicious amount of variety both of colour and form, and every feature that constitutes individuality in plants, and the flowers of all seasons are indispensable also in the practice of it. Thus spring, summer, and autumn flower-gardening may be carried on in the same place; and the largest number of the subjects being both hardy and of perennial duration, an extended enjoyment of flowers may be obtained at very little increase of labour and cost, even where it may be adopted as an adjunct to the massing system, or in any other way, as a relieving feature or department in the same establishment. In other cases where the strain and demands made on indoor departments and labour by the expensive routine of "bedding-out” are felt to be oppressive, some curtailment of the extent of the massing system might be made without any decrease in the interest of the flower-garden, but rather the reverse, by the